Sometimes I forget to be grateful for my amazing career! When bogged down with deadlines, or tired from training other people it's all too easy to slip into moaning mode! But the recent death of my father has made me reflect on my life and has opened my eyes once again to all of the amazing opportunities I have before me now and have been lucky enough to have throughout my career.
One such opportunity that I would've loved to have shared with my dear Dad came my way this weekend when I was invited along to the Powerade Sports Academy in London. As is usual in the media industry, it was pretty last minute, so I wasn't too sure what was going to be involved, apart from the fact that I would get to interview Olympian Mitchell Watt who just won silver for his amazing long jump (watch this space for more on that) and that I would be working out a lot! Sounded good to me!
I arrived Sunday lunchtime, to find a sports field full of amazing fit bodies all decked out in Powerade kit with coaches and Olympians aplenty! Feeling slightly intimidated and concerned about my lack of ability I changed into my kit and jogged onto the field to join team 'Rest of the World' for our fitness assessment. Sounds pretty easy right? Well, let me tell you that sprinting a timed 200m, spinning at maximum effort to establish peak power and going through a strength and conditioning routine all with Olympic coaches is not exactly easy! But, it was a great team building exercise, a great motivator (who doesn't want to go faster) and a great way to meet like-minded people from all over the world.
With Day 1 and the fitness tests under our belts, we all headed off to our digs, just in time to gather as a group and witness the world's fastest man - Usain Bolt's amazing 100m victory. Wow! It was at that moment that I looked around the room and felt that bolt (pardon the pun) of humility. I was struck by just how lucky I was to be invited to experience such great events, to meet so many wonderful people, to have a body that will gallantly try to do whatever I ask of it, and to have the good fortune to love my job!
Day 2 and with already slightly twangy hamstrings from the sprint drills, we set off nice and early for a Pilates/Yoga class before breakfast. With everybody more comfortable together in the group by now there were plenty of giggles as tight bodies refused to cooperate or uncoordinated limbs flailed around and we were all in great spirits in time for breakfast. Our nutritionist for the academy was the wonderful and gorgeous Beatriz Boullosa who is currently responsible for the Mexican Footballers nutrition. She gave a wonderful lecture about the importance of nutrition and hydration in sport and also organised delights such as cold mango and kiwi soup for breakfast!
After breakfast the day really kicked off. My group started out with sprint training with ex-Olympian Mechelle Lewis Freeman followed by swimming coaching with the wonderful Ben Titley (Head coach of British Olympic swimming team) where we were lucky enough to meet Canadian Brent Haydon who won bronze (and I held his medal! Wow!). After a super delicious nutritious lunch we then took our full bellies back out onto the field for training on sprint blocks with Mechelle. By this point it was becoming obvious that I am no athlete, and half way through the next session (endurance running) I must admit that I ducked out half way through the second set of 10 x 100m to run an interview with Mechelle.
This was both fantastic as I learnt some great tips (that I will share with you later) and my legs had chance to recover before the cycle session! This final session of the day was probably my favourite, which surprised me as running is my favourite sport; however, the Watt bikes that we used under the expert eyes of pro cyclist Dean Downing were amazing! The feedback from these machines is incredible with displays of how much power is driving through each leg, and where in the pedal stroke power is lost. The fact that I was riding alongside all these wonderful athletes and incredible people made me feel slightly ashamed of my usual scale of effort, and in spite of having legs like jelly I decided to try and find that little bit extra inside (which athletes are so accomplished at finding) and surprised myself that I could actually keep going. I don't think I have ever sweated so much in my life!
I learnt so much from my short time at the Powerade Sports Academy: firstly that sportspeople from all over the world are incredibly open, friendly and humble. Secondly that you can always find that little bit extra and thirdly I learnt so many tips on how to be a better sportsperson. These tips are too numerous to share here now, so I will come back and pass these on to you very soon.